Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dear Gwen: Month Forty-Five

Dear Gwen,
Today you are forty-five months old. You are SO big!

The last month has been full of a great deal of adventure, and I’ll pick up where the last newsletter left off and discuss the various Christmas shenanigans. To set the scene: there is an exchange in the movie “Love, Actually” where a child tells his parent that he is going to be a lobster in the Christmas nativity. The parent, confused, asks, “There were lobsters at the birth of our Lord?” and the child responds succinctly, “DUH.” It is in this spirit that I am now able to announce to the world at large that you, my daughter, Gwendolyn J. Buechler, played the pivotal role of Christmas Unicorn at the Sunday School recreation of Baby Jesus’ birth.


Christmas Day was just what every parent wants it to be: you are at the perfect age to enjoy and appreciate every gift with enthusiastic statements of awe and gratitude. “Wow! It’s just what I wanted! THANK YOU!” We spent the morning at home, just the three of us, which was a treat in itself as we rarely get family time these days. In between nearly every gift we stopped to play with it for a few minutes before moving on to the next gift, an approach I really enjoy. I’d have to say that every gift you received was a hit with no clunkers whatsoever. In the late morning, we got dressed and headed out to your Gramma and Grandpa’s house to open more gifts and have Christmas brunch. After all the festivities, you were plum exhausted and fell asleep on the car ride home.

On Boxing Day, Dad went to work and I took you to the Winter Wonderland skate at the local arena. You made me really proud with your determination and perseverance, and before long you remembered the tricks you learned at Boots to Blades last year. As an added bonus, the local TV station was there and used some footage of you to wrap up their news segment on the event, which was very exciting! Obviously their editors could see the raw talent and personality shining through your every move.

Our next big event was a trip to Powell River to visit your Grannie and Grandpa and get … yes … more presents. You had a great time on this trip and enjoyed showing off your songs and skills to your grandparents. You got to play Grandpa’s drums again AND he even let you play with the microphone … that was a big hit!

Since the end of the holidays and the return to “real life”, we’ve been enjoying some low-key, mellow weekends together. Saturdays have become the day when you’re in charge, which most of my Facebook friends seem to think is awesome, having somehow missed the part where I am totally copping out as a parent. This past Saturday, you had leftover Christmas candy for breakfast, watched two full-length movies, and didn’t get out of your pajamas until 1pm. I guess once a week you need a break from being bossed around … and I ~really~ need a break from doing the bossing.

The rest of the week is somewhat stressful these days, or I guess to be more accurate the mornings and evenings are stressful. Getting you up out of bed, pottied, dressed, fed, and out the door to school or daycare is an ongoing battle each day. Then in the evening, we repeat the same process in reverse: begging you to eat your dinner, wash your hands, get your teeth brushed and pajamas on. Once we get you into your bedroom you never fight us on the actual going-to-bed bit, but everything up to that point is a struggle. I guess this is why I am slacking off on Saturdays: it’s clear you don’t like being rushed around, but during the week we have little choice. (Note: first commenter to suggest we try getting Gwen out of bed earlier, gets to come and give it a try some weekday morning.) On Saturday, however, we have no agenda but burning the daylight. We might as well live at your pace, on those days that we can.

Whenever we are not fighting about whatever task needs to be completed at the moment, life is fun. You’re a thoroughly entertaining, joyful, loving little girl. It still fascinates me to get little glimpses into how your mind works. On a recent snowy day, we were walking to the car after preschool.
Gwen: I hear the birds! What do you think they’re saying?Me: I don’t know! Maybe they’re saying, Brrr, it’s cold out here!
Gwen: I think they are saying, We want to play in the snow!
Me: Maybe they want to build a snowman.
Gwen: Or they could build a snowbird!

Another bit of charming dialogue recently happened when you decided to wear patent leather party shoes outside on a snowy, slushy day when we were planning a nature walk. I advised you against this, and offered your rubber boots.
Gwen: But it’s not raining, Mom.
Me: No, but it has been raining and snowing for three days and there will be a lot of puddles outside.
Gwen: Well, that’s okay. I don’t want to jump in the puddles today.
Me: It’s going to be really wet and cold and slushy outside, and your white shoes will get ruined. Please wear your rubber boots, or your winter boots.
Then you put on your Mama voice. This is when you adopt my firm tone, and my body language, to spout out some command that sounds EXACTLY like it is coming right out of my own mouth. And you said: “Mama. If you don’t let me wear the shoes that I want to wear, then we are NOT going outside.”

Naturally, I shrugged and said, “Okay,” and was halfway back to the couch and my Kobo when you realized you’d made a fatal error. “Uh, Mama, I will wear my winter boots.” Okay! And off we went for a walk.

You are a really fun kid, Gwen, and I feel really lucky to be your Mama. I’m excited about sharing the upcoming year with you, and celebrating your fourth birthday, and teaching you more fun stuff, and enjoying each other. Happy New Year, my girl!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Five

1. I never had nosebleeds as a kid (and don't remember my sister having them either) so to me they are mysterious and FREAKY. Gwen had one on Wednesday night as she slept, as evidenced by the dried blood on her face the next morning. Judging by Chris's response to this (calm, cool, unruffled), this ain't no big thang. Still I find it CREEPY! When I picked Gwen up from school that afternoon I learned from her teacher - whose attitude completely mirrored Chris's - that she had had 5-6 more throughout the day. No Big Thing, everyone seems to insist. Blood coming from one's nose, especially for no real reason, seems like it ought to be a thing. Even Gwen seems untroubled by it, but I'm pretty sure if a nosebleed actually occurs in my presence I'm going to have trouble hiding my squick response.

2. I am busily planning our family trip to Alberta in June so that I can CONVOCATE with my Bachelor of English degree. Planning said trip has proved to be way more fun than, say, actually completing my final course. In some ways I am a lot like the typical high school student at the beginning of June, when the school year is about to end and it's next to impossible to get too excited about the remaining work. Anyway, the (very loose) plan at the moment is that Chris, Gwen, and I will drive to Athabasca for my graduation and then spend 4ish days in Edmonton, exploring the many family activities on offer at West Edmonton Mall, the Space and Science Centre, the Royal Alberta Museum, etc. My parents may be joining us as well, which would be fun - they went to Disneyland with my sister and her family last year, so this is our chance to share a vacation together. We are saving every spare penny we have between now and then to afford this trip.

3. The penny-saving has been made a touch easier by the fact that Chris has landed a second job, working in the IMIT (computer) department for the local university. It is a casual position that runs from now until the end of March, but may lead to more opportunities in the future. For now, he will be working there every Monday and every second Tuesday; since he also works Wednesday through Sunday at his retail job, this means he only gets 1 day in 14 days off. I am not sure how he is going to manage this workload but he seems optimistic about it, and we have a few friends who work in the same department who assure us it will be manageable. The money is more than he makes at his retail job, so that part is awesome.

4. I am teaching Gwen to read and it is SO COOL! She even taught herself how to read the word 'up' a few nights ago. My sister accused me of being Gwyneth-like, but that will not stop me from my awestruck ranting on the subject. I feel like I now understand why teachers put up with all the crap they put up with in order to have the experience of teaching a child something new and watching the light bulb click on. I can't think of anything else more rewarding than that.

5. I am feeling a lift in my spirits this week. The days have been brighter, crisp and cold but bright and that is definitely helping. It feels like a new beginning and I am really, really ready for it. I've heard people express the sentiment that 2011 was a terrible year, which I certainly agree with, and that 2012 has GOT to be better. I am not expecting enormous, amazing things from 2012, but I feel like even if we just carry on making the little things count, we will be doing well. I think my word for this year is "contentment".

Friday, January 6, 2012

Woozy Snoozing

I enjoyed a lovely coffee date (well, hot chocolate date, actually) with a friend earlier this week and we shared stories of our Christmases. She told me about her young niece asking for - and receiving - a training bra, which caused us both to reflect on how eager children are to grow up, and how if they really understood what was waiting for them in the grown-up world, they might feel differently. I've said to dozens of people in the past weeks that Gwen's responses on Christmas were everything you would want a child to experience and say: "Oh, WOW! Just what I wanted! THANK YOU!" over and over again. So enthusiastic, so guileless. So effortlessly able to believe in magic.

Meanwhile, in the grown up world, we struggle with difficult decisions, we spend hours every day doing things that not only fail to feed our souls, but may actually grind them down, we worry about commutes and paycheques and time management and relationships and priorities and investments and the price of gas, not to mention the new depression, global warming, media saturation, discipline methods, and the public education system. To name a few.

But you, sweet child, keep sleeping. Keep dreaming of rocketships and fairies and robots and cupcakes and a world full of adventure. Don't hurry too fast towards that grown up world. Let's just stay here and snooze a little longer.


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